Northern Ireland

HIA inquiry begins examining abuse allegations at Protestant church-run home

Sir Anthony Hart Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Northern Ireland's Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry is being chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, a retired senior High Court judge

An inquiry has opened public hearings into allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a children's home run by Protestant missionaries.

Manor House in Lisburn, County Antrim, was run by the Society of Irish Church Missions (ICM), an organisation with links to the Church of Ireland.

Manor House closed in 1984.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry is investigating child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995.

The allegations of abuse relating to Manor House have been made by some former residents who lived at the home during periods in the 1940s, 1960s and 1970s.

They claim the abuse was perpetrated by some staff, visitors and other children at the home.

Disputed

Among those alleging abuse at Manor House are two people who were sent to Australia as part of a child migrant scheme in the 1940s and 1950s.

One man, a retired company director, told the inquiry in September 2014 that he became a teenage prostitute in Australia after suffering abuse at Manor House.

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Media captionThe inquiry is investigating child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland

Another former resident of Manor House also gave evidence to the inquiry in 2014.

He said he was tied to a rope that was attached to a brick and then tied to his bed at night so that he would not run away.

At the time, the ICM said in a statement that it disputed the claims made.

Aristocratic

The Society for the Irish Church Missions was founded in March 1849 by an evangelical preacher from England, in a bid to convert Catholics to Protestantism across the island of Ireland.

Manor House, on Lisburn's Hillsborough Road, was bequeathed to the ICM in 1927, by Louisa Fitzgerald Stannus, a member of an aristocratic family.

The former children's home is one of 22 residential institutions across Northern Ireland that are currently under investigation by the inquiry team.

The list includes state-run children's homes, juvenile justice centres and homes run by the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the UK's largest children's charity, Barnardo's.

More than 500 people have made a formal application to speak to the HIA inquiry or to share their experiences thorough its acknowledgement forum.

The inquiry's chairman, retired senior High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart, is due to submit his report to the Northern Ireland Executive by 17 January 2017.

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